Sometimes that’s as good as it gets

The elusive male cardinal

I spent a lot of time last winter trying to “capture” the elusive male cardinal.  I set up camp by a window where I’d have the best shot at him.  I’d patiently wait.  And wait.  And wait.  As soon as I had to get up and move for some reason (sometimes just to move!), he would show up and I’d miss the shot.   Or that brilliant red would catch the eye of one of the cats and they would scare him off by jumping up on the windowsill.  Eventually I settled for this photo although I did keep trying throughout the winter.  It was as good as it was going to get.

This year I haven’t seen much of the male cardinal.  He seems to prefer the neighbor’s birdseed over mine.  Perhaps the neighbors are away or they’ve forgotten to put out seed.  Whatever the case, the male cardinal and his mate have been frequenting our homemade bird feeder.  Maybe we scored points with them for originality.  After all, how many folks have a bird feeder made from an old bicycle tire?

They are both still difficult to capture, flying off at the slightest movement indoors.  So I feel pretty lucky to have managed to capture him and her this morning.  I suspect these shots are as good as it gets for this year (and for my camera).

The cardinal’s presence reflects a time to renew our vitality.  It reflects lessons in developing and accepting a new sense of our own true self-importance.

~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak

The mourning doves, on the other hand, are quite cooperative.  They sometimes have to be chased away as they will sit smack in the middle of the food as if brooding over an egg.

The little birds don’t mind me at all as long as I don’t move too much.  They always travel in mixed groups, and I haven’t yet tried to identify anything other than the Dark-Eyed Junco.  They will put up with a few shifts and movements before suddenly taking off all at once.

M and I went cross-country skiing early this afternoon.  We didn’t go far.  Just around Breezy Acres a few times.  I took my first trip down our big hill.  It’s not really a big hill, as you can see from the photo above.  But it’s the best hill we have, and I’m a little shaky on the first trip or two down a hill which tends to increase the size of the hill in my mind.  I prefer flat ground.  And mild to moderate uphills.  I’m good at those.

The first trip down usually requires some time for me to think about it and work up the nerve to go.  This time I didn’t bother.  I fit my skis in the tracks M had made and took off, shouting “wheeeeeee!” on the way down.  You can see where I swerved to the left a little.  That’s where my monkey-mind thought about what could happen rather than staying in the fun moment, which caused me to try to slow down.  It’s easy to lose your balance if you start thinking ahead and worrying about things that are unlikely to happen.

Creekside in the woods

I took a walk back to the woods today, too.  It’s beautiful back there, as it always is in the winter after a good snowfall.

That’s it from the Bogs for this wonderful wintry Saturday.  Thank you for visiting.  The sun came out late this afternoon and the sky is the most amazing shade of blue.  I bet the sunset is going to be colorful.  There are just enough clouds left to create extra texture and color in the sky.  We can watch from the living room, near the fireplace, staying warm as we toast the setting sun.

The locust tree saluting the big, beautiful, blue sky.

42 Comments on “Sometimes that’s as good as it gets”

  1. Dounia says:

    Wonderful photos, as always!

  2. Hallysann says:

    Beautiful pictures, so calm and peaceful. 🙂

  3. Dana says:

    Beautiful pics of the cardinals. I don’t know if we even have cardinals up in the Pacific Northwest, though the doves sure look familiar.

  4. Karma says:

    The cardinal pictures came out very nicely against the wintery background. I got my best shot of a male cardinal last winter when I offered a suet cake along with my feeder – that got him to stick around for a bit! BTW – I got new feeders today – they are made of glass and copper, so hopefully the squirrels won’t be able to wreck these.

    • Robin says:

      I remember that shot, Karma. It’s a great one. I hope your feeders are working out well and that the squirrels are staying out of them.

  5. I, too, love the cardinal photos. In fact, I think my favorite of the bunch is the female–rather than the male. There’s something so monochromatic about it–except for her beak. Wonderful.

    Stay warm and enjoy the rest of your weekend.


  6. Robin, I see you captured the cardinal really well. Love the first one, it’s a great capture.

  7. Kel says:

    oh my heart skipped a beat when i saw those fresh tracks
    then another one when you shouted “wheeee” as you skied down them
    you know i LOVE this
    thanx for sharing

  8. eldy says:

    Wow wow wow beautiful shots of the cardinal! And ofcourse the doves and junco. The only difference between your snow tracks and mine is the giant sloppy “snow angel” where I did not say wheee….more like aaaah. I am so enjoying following your blog everyday. Thankyou for sharing.

  9. Carla says:

    Love your ski tracks in the sunshine-y snow!

  10. eof737 says:

    I have missed your crisp, enthralling photos… These are simply amazing. 😉

  11. Very peaceful photos–love the birds against the stark white snow. I haven’t been down hill skiing in years and would love to try cross-country skiing. I bet you get a great workout.

  12. Pat Bean says:

    Pretty darn good!

  13. bearyweather says:

    Looks like things are great in the bogs. Lots of great pictures as usual.
    I have not skied in a few years .. hills were my down “fall” … your words explain exactly how my thoughts worked going down hills … relaxing, not over thinking, and just letting myself go was so difficult.
    No cardinals can be found here, but I have my own set of camera shy birds … like the bluejay. I figured the one I was lucky to get last year was as good as it would get … However, it is a new year … who knows what will come my way?

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, Bearyweather. 🙂

      For some of us, it’s hard to let go of that sense of control and just let gravity do its thing. I’ll probably have to keep having a first fall every time I go out to keep letting go of those worries.

  14. Beautiful shots, Robin!

  15. Kathy says:

    That first cardinal shot is so good that I shivered. That’s how good it is.

  16. You have much better luck with the cardinals than I have – or maybe the snow gives such contrast. Both of the ones in the branches are great. Love the ski tracks, too

  17. Wonderful winter images, Robin- that looks like a Song Sparrow on the feeder with the Doves!

  18. cfbookchick says:

    So beautiful! I admire anyone who can get shots of birds, and I envy you all as well.

  19. Coming East says:

    There is nothing more beautiful to photograph than birds against snow. Your pictures are stunning, Robin. I miss having a big yard with lots of birds. The only birds I’ve seen in our little courtyard are a few doves once in awhile.

  20. cidnlars says:

    Beautiful! Love the feeder idea!

  21. Cmsmith says:

    I’ve been interested in photographing birds lately too, although we don’t have snow here this year and snow makes it so much nicer. The bird feeders help a lot. I’m having trouble getting the little nuthatch. It really darts around. But I managed to capture it on the peanut feeder.

    • Robin says:

      The snow really helps them stand out, Christine. We haven’t had enough to really count this winter. Birds are always a big challenge for me. I often don’t have the patience required to sit there and wait.

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